From June 2007 diary—Thursday 7th:

Terrible dream again.

Some relative of mine—some death-scene—on a roundabout—unbelievable—but there he was, dead—something about birds.

Some discovery of something broken, and bloody.

Of course, I visited.  Couldn’t keep me away.

Went to visit him regularly.

He was reluctant to go out somewhere, and you know me—encouraging.

We went down a road or street—downhill—a park to our right—with penguins in it—no—dolphins—something like that—a children’s playground, but in a boat—and one of the penguins at the bottom—or chimpanzees—turned with a penguin it was holding, and all its orifices, all blood, all starting to fall away, decay away.

But dried out all this was—sockets in a skull that could be seen in the gaping mouth—where teeth had gone—I can see it now—blackened dried-out blood something like rust—and the sad look on the live one’s face—and blood-stained water in the bottom of the pool—of course they were all dead, but there were levels of death.

Right, my relative was not wanting to go anywhere near there, and I’d chivvied him along—it’ll be fine, you’ll enjoy it—as though it was a case of him not being able to be bothered with the exercise.

And then we walked further, or somewhere else.

There was some dressing-up for some theatre-show.

And a showing of ourselves to other people who admired, or would admire.

And then we went further, down some other road in the opposite direction, in a way, yet the same way—like going down an adjacent street from somewhere else.

And then he was hurt, and I reached over and picked him up and carried him, despite the fact that he was way too heavy for me.

And I carried him down this road, and we were just about to turn a corner when two boys saw him—from that other road—they called his name.

I realised the malicious intent, and turned around to go back—it wasn’t far—we’d gone ahead of our friends.

But they chased us on bicycles, two of them, and had encircled us in sight of our friends, and they intended harm, and I didn’t know if our friends would save us first—and I was awake.

An awful, bloody dream.


From ‘Wednesday 9 May 2007’:

Bought a birthday card with ‘husband’ on it—it was difficult to get one that was not over-the-top.

I’m lost in this world of—‘I love you so much’.

That sort of thing—‘You are the only one’; ‘I knew the moment I saw you’—all this tripe—it’s because the divorce rate is so high—there’s a general pretence at this super-romance thing.

It’s a load of bollocks.

You meet someone—he seems right for you—you become entangled financially or because you have children—or you grow older and know that the grass is not greener on the other side.

You know the one you’ve got is as good as another might be.

You know you settle down into the humdrum.

What you have—it’s as good as anything—you settle.

Yes.  I’m happy enough.

He’s okay.  I don’t expect wonders.

I don’t want excitement.  I want comfort.

To be comfortable.

Yes.  It’s okay.

I’d miss him if he was gone.

And I couldn’t get an anniversary card—why was it we ended up getting married around about his birthday?—because they were all too lovey-dovey.

Let’s be English about this, shall we?

Let’s be dour Yorkshire-men.

Yes, I know—I’m a woman.

I think I’m in the past, in my mind.

Best thing to do is just to gabble on.

I looked at myself in the mirror today.

I don’t do that often now.

Sure, I see myself.

But I don’t look much.

I looked into my eyes, and you can’t, you know—you can only look at one eye at a time—and the same if you look someone else in the eyes.

But I made acquaintance with myself, eye to eye.

‘Really, Joan?’ I asked myself.

Sixty-year-old skeleton

[From April 2007 diary—28th]

I heard a heartening thing on the television last night—in ten years, you have a completely different skeleton—it takes ten years to replace itself.

I only have five years to go to get my sixty-year-old skeleton.  It’ll be the sixth one I’ve had.  This means that I can really concentrate on the health of my skeleton, and know with certainty that whatever I feed it with and the exercise I can give myself to strengthen it—these measures really will work.

I’m pleased about that.

People think ten years is a long time.

It doesn’t seem all that long a time to me now, though I know I only have a few of them left.  Decades, I mean.

Does this bother me?

No.  I’m looking forward to my sixty-year-old skeleton, and thinking it’ll be really quite healthy, because I’ve been drinking a lot of milk for a long time.

I’ve had the menopause, and that will be affecting my skeleton—the fact that I’m this side of it.

But my skeleton will still be quite a good one because I’m eating a lot.

My skeleton could be in better nick, soon, than it has been for a few decades.

I’m quite fat, but the extra weight will be helping my skeleton to get strong, in order to hold it all.


Told you I’m an optimist.

Diary: from—Thursday 26 April 2007

It’s Thursday now, 26th April 2007, about 2.00, am.

Tea and toast.  The thing is I’m not really hungry.  Slightly peckish, maybe—which is funny because I had chicken in my sandwich today at lunchtime, and I don’t often have meat more than once a day now—I find that is enough.

However, we did end up with seafood pizzas for dinner.

Not sleeping.

I did sleep, but not for long.  I was on my back, and my really awful snoring woke me up.

I’ve just found some mould on one of my slices of toast—hope I haven’t eaten any on the other slice.  It has been very warm today—very pleasant, with just enough wind to keep off the heat.  Not like April at all.  They do reckon the global warming is due to us.  But there was a programme on last night about the very olden days—way back—mammoths and so on.  What was it?  Seven hundred thousand years back, even.  Or was that ‘million’?  I can’t do the numbers.  It was amazing how civilised the people were—making wooden platforms above—was it a campfire?

They found extremely well-preserved pieces under the sea—was it the Channel or the North Sea?—from when it was all land—and then there was global warming.  It warmed seven degrees in fifteen years!  And the waters came in.

This warming—naturally happens—but they still think that our warming now is, at least in part, human-made…

And the flints—they were clever, you know, those people.

But it was so long ago I can’t grasp the distance in time.  My mind boggles.


Well, I went to bed about midnight.

I did relaxation in bed.

Fell asleep.

Snored and woke.

The police helicopter went past so loudly that I thought I must have left the window open.

I hadn’t.

I got up and did my sciatica exercise.

Went back to bed.

Deep relaxation.

No go.  Couldn’t sleep.

So I got up.  I may as well be doing something as lying there all night.

I’ll take two aspirin now, which I was hoping to avoid.

Poem—fragment from a university portfolio—notes to myself in square brackets

…[Going to put the stress patterns on by pen—don’t know how to do that by computer.][16/06/2015—‘woolly mammoth’—5th line down—I wonder about that now—in the footnotes, I have it as ‘my own interpretation’—well, it would be.]

27/11/ 92

Where is the poem, beneath the stress pattern?

Where is the meaning, my merry old man?1

We’ve looked at the metre, we’ve used the tape measure2

We’ve footed the fortunes3, of firth and away.4

But where are the words?  My own woolly mammoth?5

Where are the meanings, my merry old man?…


1  merry old man—stock phrase for God or Aristotle.

2  Associated with the merry old man, via Aristotle—poetry—measure; “The form of art that uses language alone, whether in prose or verse, and verse either in a mixture of metres or in one particular kind…” (Aristotle, Poetics, 32)  (But verse is metre, or measure); “Poets who write in strict conformity to a single metrical pattern will achieve the music of a metronome and soon drive their listeners away.”

Robot speech = regularity

Human speech = regularity/irregularity, or variation. (Norton Anthology, 1408)

3  footed the fortunes = imposed a pattern (Latin metre) on something formerly freer (Anglo-Saxon tradition which only needed two stresses per each half-line and as many unstressed as required to complete the meaning); putting English speech rhythms into Latin metrical could be seen as an imposition.

4  firth and away = freedom of Anglo-Saxon poetry compared to Latin metrical; firth—a route to the sea where no landmarks point the way.  [‘firth’ reminds me of ‘Forth’, of course.]

5  woolly mammoth = my own interpretation.

[Note from 7/06/2017—this poem is mine, by the way.]